Friday, August 31, 2012

"Life preservers"

I sat looking at her photo of marriage dissolution papers.  Stage IV cancer rears its ugly head again.  She is splitting from her husband in the hopes of not bankrupting her family.  With her kids about to go away to college, the fact that they may have to lose both their mom and their college funding, was more than she could take.  She is clearly in survival mode, stripping herself bare, in the hopes of more tomorrows.

I wish I could say I can't imagine what that looks like.  How she must feel.  On the surface she looks brave, fearless, inspiring.  But I know... her back is against the wall and she simply has no other choice.    We don't walk this path by choice.  We yield.  We surrender.  We're afraid, hurt and completely aware of the precariousness of it all.  I wish I could say I have no idea what that feels like...


But the truth is, I do.  Cancer is so enormous, it takes over you whole life, not just your whole body.  Nothing is sacred.  Nothing is left untouched.

marriages...

homes...

jobs...

lives...

all at risk of being lost...

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But this is how I am rescued.


I arrived at the Iverson's house last night.  The Vicky Westra Benefit team was putting together silent auction items.  And there spread out all across the basement were my "life preservers."  Each and every item, a reflection of someone who has been touched by cancer.  The generosity on display brings me to tears and I am quiet, trying to take it all in.

I witness the devotion, the team work, the generosity of Heather and Dave, Brenda and Steve, Laura and Eric and so many others behind the scene that I have yet to fully comprehend. Gratitude unexpressed lodges in my throat, words seeming inadequate to the magnitude of the feelings I have.

I am moved beyond words.

The newest breast cancer drug on the market is Pertuzumab, called Perjeta.  A loading dose of the drug is 22,000 dollars.  Its infused once every three weeks.  The maintenance doses are 11,000 dollars. The drug has shown significant ability to increase long term survival  Insurance companies however, are categorically denying coverage for the drug.  You can "max out a life" trying to cover the costs on your own.  You can lose a life by deciding it isn't worth the cost.

Having a decent health insurance policy, like we have, doesn't ensure you are covered.  A 2 million dollar cancer benefit feels like enough- but when ct scans, mri's, bone scans, PET scans, mental health visits, oral chemos, prescription drugs, outpatient services (ahem, like your referral to a plastic surgeon for a non healing wound) are all excluded from your policy?  You can literally drown in bills.

We fight more than just the disease of cancer.



And that is where the "community" at large comes into play.  That saying "It takes a village to raise a child..."  "It takes a community to help a family fight against cancer."  I've said it a hundred times, and I'll keep saying it till I'm blue in the face- this is the most generous, giving, thoughtful community ever.  From my family to my blogging friends, to our hockey friends, to my cancer sistas, to our church communitites to our neighbors, and shoot- I know I will leave someone out...  but we would be obliterated if it weren't for all of you.

That is why...

Each basket, each item, each gift certificate snakes around the basement, forming a chain of survival.  A chain of hope.  A battle won for our family.  Our future stretches out before us, wrapped in love, generously given by so many.  But not just our family- every family seeking shelter from the damages of the hurricane of cancer.

I feel abundantly blessed, wrapped in His grace and His mercy and so loved.  So, so loved.  Amen.


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I started with a couple of photos- but quickly realized I wanted to capture everything!  If you are a Twins fan- TC put together a donation from his stash of memorabilia!  This is just two of a box full of items!  Joe Mauer anyone?








Are you an old school Twins fan? Kirby Puckett anyone?  





A purse from the boutique of Vi who I bought my wig from.  So cute! 




massages
hair care- highlights, cuts, styles- products...
beautiful jewelry
toys, toys, and lots of toys- Bakugan, hot wheels, Xbox games, etc...
John Deere toys
wine baskets
hotel packages
a casino package
all things hockey!  Blue line camp, Sanford treadmill sessions,  FP3 summer session, to hmmm... maybe something a little "Wild?"  Maybe something very Wild! 




Stay tuned... its just getting started... 









21 comments:

  1. Amen and thank you Lord are all I can seem to muster - this got me Vicky - got me in the heart and I am crying sweet tears for you and your humble grace filled words.

    Glory to Him - all Glory to Him!

    Love to you!
    xoTiffany

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    1. So true- I pray all Glory goes to Him- love you Tiffany :)

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  2. Wow Vicki, your community does sound incredibly generous and just plain incredible. But then you need to remember so are you, you are so incredibly generous and just plain incredible too. I am so happy that they are wrapping their arms around you and your family and giving you every fighting chance. Have a wonderful night and looking forward to hearing about it all.

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    1. Thank Lilly- its quite awe inspiring to see the lengths so many people have gone to for us... its hard to truly absorb the magnitude... I still feel just like the girl next door:)

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  3. It is shocking the cost of cancer drugs. Ridiculous and shocking. You are truly surrounded by love and support. God bless your neighbors and close friends. Have a great weekend. XO, Pinky

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    1. Thank you Pinky- there is truly so much about treatment in general and the entire culture of breast cancer that is shocking... I feel fortunate to be surrounded by the best of the best- all the way around.

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  4. This leaves one at a loss for words.

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    1. I know the feeling Susan- on so many levels there are just no words... blessings to you

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  5. Wow Vicky your community sounds great!The prices of these drugs are ridiculously expensive.I am not sure even our medicare would cover them. They only do the regular stuff and don't even tell you about what's available. Thats what I love about America. They tell you about other options.
    I am glad you are in Fight mode.Keep fighting the good fight.xoxoxox

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    1. Yes, there are options which is good to hear- but not always having access to those options makes it pretty tricky to know how to navigate. I am always in fight mode- I promise :)

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  6. You always remind me of what good community you have around you and how vital it is as we all fight this fight together. Most of them probably wishing they could fight it for you. And you remind me to be grateful for the decent coverage we've been shown so far.

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    1. Exactly- this community helping me fight- really helps us all fight... and I also need to be reminded that having some coverage is better than not having any... gappy insurance is still better than not having it at all... thanks for that reminder too

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  7. Vicky...
    I'm nearly at a loss for words. What an awesome community you live in. I'm so thankful for everything they are doing to help.
    Please know I am thinking of you, and sending many warm hugs!

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    1. Jen- its that good ole Midwest spirit of giving- alive and well. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by it all :) Hugs to you!

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  8. I'm praying for you Vicky! God has surrounded you with such a beautiful community. You are well loved!

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    1. Thank you Barbie- it is God's grace and mercy showing up in this beautiful community- so true- I feel loved :)

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  9. Oh Vicky, this is an amazing post about amazing love. To have friends like you have - an entire community - goes beyond words and straight into my heart. You are incredibly blessed.

    We don't even feel comfortable at our church - and for now can't even bring ourselves to go - as we have been blown away by the lack of caring by many people that we thought were friends, people we were walking life with. A text is not the same as a live phone call, a visit, or a meal. I once wrote that cancer clearly defines the difference between friends and acquaintances. I have no time or energy to waste on people that truly don't care.

    I am so blessed to have other amazing, close friends and family that have gone above and beyond to love and help me. I have also been gifted by the love of people that were on the fringes of my life, that have been soooo good to me and Steve. I've bonded with people that I didn't even realize wanted a deeper friendship, not just because of the cancer, but because they genuinely like me.

    I hear you loud and clear about the cost of cancer. We had to fight to get a PATHOLOGIST bill paid. Diagnosis - the first step and we were already in the boxing ring. I've been blown away that although we have great insurance, there is always just one more copay - over and over again. Everyone that touches my care gets a copay and I'm still in shock when the bills "catch up." If our kids were not grown and out of college, I don't know how we would manage.

    Wow, my comment is long - sorry :) Thank you for sharing this piece of your life that really gives the reality of cancer.

    Big, squeezy hugs, Marla

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    1. Hi Marla,

      So good to have you come visit :) I think of you often and pray you are well. Its true that not everyone will be able to walk with you the entire journey. I've found that it helps if I simply try to meet people where they are. Some people are scared, or worried they'll offend you, or unsure if you like to talk about it... if you can just let that be okay, I've found it helps. And yes, then the blessing of the ones that relate and support and help, every step of the way... truly the best "medicine" available.

      Even with good insurance the costs can spiral, its true. I'm sorry you had to find that out as well.

      Big hugs back to you!

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  10. Dearest Vicky, I am so glad that my computer is working again, sorry for my absence Reading this today reminds me of how strong you are. I am so glad you have such a wonderful community for support. What frustrates me for you is the Insurance companies. I believe the help should be there. I know our system is much better in Canada, when you are sick no energy should be spent on the worry the insurance companies can cause. The focus should be on your health,....my circumstances were different here but I had to fight for my benefits because of an illness that was not recognized. It was certainly recognized by me....Your life preserves and the picture in your header are wonderful. I am praying for you Vicky. God Bless you for all you do. hugs.

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    1. Hi Cinner, so glad to hear from you! I hope you are doing well- glad to hear the computer is working again and you are able to get out and visit us! I miss you :) Thanks for your gracious words- I appreciate all of the prayers! Love and blessings to you!

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  11. So AWESOME, so thrilled for the possibilities. So stunned by what insurance doesn't cover. So grateful you are loved in a mighty way.

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I welcome what you have to say. Thanks for taking the time to grace me with your thoughts and words!

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